Federico Fuentes

NSW parliament narrowly voted down a September 17 motion to discipline Liberal MLC Peter Phelps over comments he made in parliament defending General Augusto Pinochet’s violent military coup against Chile’s president Salvador Allende in 1973.

Members of the Chilean community have vowed to continue the campaign to hold Phelps to account for his outrageous comments.

On September 11, 40 years to the day of the coup, Phelps praised Pinochet as “a reluctant hero, a morally courageous man” and said he supported a military coup that deposed a democratically elected government.

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With Venezuela’s inflation rate for May soaring to 6.1%, first quarter growth stagnating at 0.7%, and shortages afflicting a number of basic goods, speculation has been rife regarding the country’s economic future.

Critics from the right and left have argued these are all signs that Chavismo (the name given to the radical project for change spearheaded by former president Hugo Chavez) has reached its limits.

Bolivia is demonstrating to the world why nationalising natural resources is a crucial first step for any government seeking to put people and the environment before profits.

On May 1, 2006, less than four months after becoming president, Evo Morales decreed the nationalisation of the country’s gas reserves. This move restored state control over the strategic resource.

An important summit of global significance, held in Brazil May 16-20, has largely passed below the radar of most media outlets, including many left and progressive sources.

This summit was not the usual type, involving heads of states and business leaders.

Instead, it was a gathering of social movement representatives from across Latin America and the Caribbean -- the site of some of the most intense struggles and popular rebellions of the past few decades.

While European governments continue to impose policies aimed at making working people pay for a crisis they did not cause, the Ecuadorian government of Rafael Correa has taken a different course.

“Those who are earning too much will be giving more to the poorest of this country,” a November 1 Reuters dispatch quoted Correa as saying. He was announcing a new measure to raise taxes on banks to help fund social security payments.

Ecuador’s banking sector has registered US$349 million in after-tax profits, a November 8 El Telegrafo article said.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa counts on a high level of support at home. But internationally, he has been criticed for policies on development, the environment and indigenous peoples.

Tackling these issues in an interview in the September-October issue of New Left Review, Correa raised some important issues for activists in the global North.

See also:
Rafael Correa speaks on 'Citizen's Revolution'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s re-election on October 7 with more than 55% of the vote was vital for two reasons.

First, the Venezuelan people blocked the return to power of the neoliberal right. Had they won, these US-backed forces would have worked to roll back important advances for the poor majority won since Chavez was first elected in 1998.

The June 22 coup carried out against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was an important blow to progressive movements across Latin America.

The struggle against the coup is far from over, but learning the lessons of the coup are important. This requires placing the coup in the context of the turbulent process of change occurring in Latin America

See also
Paraguay: US makes gains from coup against Lugo

Whether Paraguay's infamously right-wing local oligarchy and its parties that seized an opportunity to bring left-leaning President Fernando Lugo down by itself, or whether the push came from the United States government, is yet to be confirmed.

The US was involved in the overthrow of many governments in Latin America in 20th century in a bid to sure up its domination of the region.

See also
Paraguay: Coup at heart of struggle over Latin America

Despite much speculation in the international media regarding the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a mass gathering of supporters accompanied him on June 11 as he registered his candidature for the October 7 presidential elections.

Chavez used the opportunity to address the issue of recent tests he had undergone after his cancer treatment. “Everything came out absolutely fine, I feel very well” said Chavez, Venezuela Analysis reported the next day.

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